The Price of Euro Integration: Brussels May Force Ukraine to Take in Thousands of Refugees

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Why the EU is imposing sanctions on the countries of the “Visegrad Four”…

During the festivities organized by the Kiev authorities in connection with the “visa-free regime holiday”, Ukrainians again heard a standard set of tales about their future happy life in the European Union. From the tribunes and screens of TVs, laypeople started again to be told how the EU is ideally structured, how Ukraine will become in it “the first among equals”, about how “democratically, by consensus” decisions are made in Europe, by considering the opinions of all participants of the “brotherly family of the European people”.

Very much inopportunely for the Ukrainian storytellers, the European Union precisely at this time showed how in reality decisions are made there, and how the voices of Eastern European “brothers” “are being considered”. The European Commission very “democratically” declared the beginning of the procedure of introducing financial sanctions against three countries of the so-called “Visegrad Four” — Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic — for their refusal to receive refugees from Africa and Asia.

Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia initially opposed the plan of distribution of refugees, which are being settling nowadays in Italy and Greece. Poland at first agreed to it, at the same time making it clear that it isn’t ready to receive refugees from Muslim countries, because supposedly it already accepted many refugees from Ukraine. After the change of the government in Poland at the end of 2015, Warsaw also refused the assumed obligations.

Quotas for receiving Afro-Asian migrants were distributed by the European Union in 2015. According to this plan (I emphasise, which was rejected by the countries of the Visegrad Four), various EU countries had to receive in total 160,000 refugees. At their own expense, of course. Some countries like the Netherlands, Finland, the Baltic Republics obediently started filling their quotas, which served already as a reason for internal conflicts. In total, according to this scheme more than 20,000 refugees were already from Italy and Greece.

Hungary, which was obliged to accept 1,300 refugees, categorically refused to do it, and even started building fences on the borders in order to protect itself from the flows of migrants. Poland (a quota of 6,200) also didn’t receive anybody, and since December, 2015, refused the plan. The Czech Republic (a quota of 2,700) agreed to receive only 12 refugees, and since August, 2016, followed the example of its neighbors. It is curious that also Slovakia, having settled meanwhile only 16 migrants, isn’t in a hurry to fulfil the plan, and also supports the refusal of it. However the European Commission began the procedure of exemplary punishment only concerning three of these countries. Probably, in order to cause a split in the Visegrad Four.

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It is necessary to note that “Visegrad” members are not the only countries that don’t receive refugees. For example, Austria also hasn’t yet settled anyone on its land according to this program. Simply Vienna, when this plan was approved, achieved exceptions, having explained it by the fact that it supposedly accepted many refugees before 2015. From a miraculous combination of circumstances, this exception to the rules comes to an end at the end of this year — practically immediately after the parliamentary elections in Austria, which once again illustrates very well to what extent decisions in the EU are made “transparently” and “democratically”. Yes, Brussels was very much afraid of a victory for the far-right in the Austrian presidential and parliamentary elections, that’s why they went to such unique exceptions to the rules. With presidential elections they so far have managed to pull it off, but in parliamentary ones the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, according to polls, is in second place, having the opportunity to take first — the just need a new round of migratory crisis. That’s why Brussels also makes “exceptions to the rules”.

But also in Hungary parliamentary elections are not far off — in the spring of 2018. Even earlier (this autumn) elections will take place in the Czech Republic, where the electoral campaign is already in full swing. For both of these countries disputes about migrants became the main topic of internal political life. So why didn’t the European Union, having made “pre-election” exceptions for Austria, make the same reciprocal step towards Hungarians and Slovaks? The answer is simple: it isn’t necessary to mistake the countries of Old Europe for “younger brothers” in this family of European people.

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Taming of the Shrew

The main concern that is shown by “Visegrad” members is connected with the actual lack of due control over the migrants distributed on quotas from Greece and Italy. To which the European commission on migration affairs regularly answers: apparently, all refugees are carefully documented, their fingerprints are taken, their movement is tracked. It is interesting how the fact of “documentation” prevented a 23-year-old refugee from Pakistan from carrying out a terrorist attack in Berlin before Christmas? For some reason European Commissioners bashfully omit the fact that one of the terrorists who cold-bloodedly shot people in Paris in November, 2015, was “carefully documented” in Greek refugee camps. European officials also actively convince rebellious Eastern Europeans that in the event of the identification of violations by these or those refugees, it is always possible to send them back easily. But the other day the German newspaper “Die Welt” provided an analysis of the situation with the return of illegal immigrants. According to this data, more than a half of refugees don’t have a legal basis to be in Europe and, according to the law, have to be sent back to the country of their origin. However the number of those sent back is so small that the newspaper called this policy “a farce”. Thus, according to this analysis, in 2016 about 14,000 natives of Nigeria were refused registration as refugees. The authorities could send home only 120 of them.

The American columnist Michael Dougherty wrote about this in the “National Review”: “The Eastern European governments are right to reject the farcical 2015 scheme. First because it is based on so many lies. Western Europe’s policy on “refugees” has been dishonest from beginning to end. The vast majority of people arriving are not fleeing war in Syria or Iraq. They are coming from Chad, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, and they are looking for economic opportunity in Europe…The settlement of these migrants in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic means the establishment of new ghettos, against the wishes of current residents and a crashing tsunami of public opinion”.

According to the extensive survey of Chatham House conducted at the beginning of this year in 10 countries of Europe, 55% of Europeans consider that the receiving of Muslim migrants on the continent must be stopped (only 20% don’t agree with it). Moreover, the leaders in the rejection of Muslim refugees are precisely Poland (71%), Austria (65%), and Hungary (64%). But since when were European officials were stopped by public opinion? In Hungary a referendum was even held, during which 98% of voters said “no” to the European quotas on this subject. But euro-bureaucrats joyfully embraced the fact that the voter turnout nearly reached 50% — and it is as if there is no unanimity in public opinion.

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Here is such European-like “consensus”. While the residents of Ukraine continue to be lied to about the “democratic character of decisions” in the EU and about the fact that problems with refugees in Europe won’t have any effect on Ukraine should the latter continues its course on “European integration”. Do citizens really believe that Brussels will listen to the opinion of Ukraine more attentively than to the opinion of Budapest or Warsaw? Thus, the idea of settling the bulk of refugees from Africa and Asia precisely in Ukraine is being discussed in Europe for a long time. At the peak of the migrant crisis this idea was publicly sounded by the British millionaire of Ukrainian origin Aleksandr Temerko, one of the main sponsors of the ruling Conservative party. He directly stated on the pages of the “Financial Times” that Ukraine with pleasure will agree to settle millions of Syrian refugees in exchange for financial aid from Europe.

In the event of such a decision by Brussels, nobody will ask the opinions of Ukrainians. You don’t believe it? Ask Hungarians and Poles. They have already seen it firsthand.

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